STRATHMORE — It was a sprint to the finish and as Rosamond began to tire, it was Strathmore that seemingly had more in the gas tank.
The Spartans scored early and often and held off a tenacious attack by the Roadrunners as they defeated Rosamond 42-32 in the championship game of the Div. VI playoffs, Friday night at Strathmore High School.
The Spartans finished their unblemished season with a 13-0 record, while Rosamond fell to 11-2.
Both teams took each other’s best punches. The game was back and forth as the first seven possessions resulted in touchdowns, four by Strathmore and three by Rosamond.
The Spartans struck first when their 2,000-yard back Joseph Garcia scored on his team’s opening possession with a 13-yard touchdown run as he carried a couple of defenders with him into the end zone.
Garcia finished the game with 174 yards on 35 carries and three touchdowns. He finished the season with 2,108 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Whatever Strathmore did, Rosamond always had an answer for.
Roadrunners’ quarterback Isiah Escobar connected with Tyler Gibson on touchdown receptions of 14 and 31 yards, the second gave Rosamond a 16-15 lead after the first quarter.
“Overall it was a hard fought game,” Rosamond head coach Kris Krempien said. “Things just didn’t go our way tonight. I’m extremely proud of the guys to go this far.”
Trailing 27-24 at halftime, the Roadrunners opened the second half with the ball. On the first play of the third quarter, Escobar was intercepted and the Spartans took over deep in Rosamond territory.
From the Wildcat formation, Garcia connected with the 6-6 quarterback Nick Salas who was split wide to the right on a third and long and hit Salas with a strike for a 26-yard touchdown reception.
Later in the third quarter, the Roadrunners’ defense got Strathmore in a fourth and four situation and the Spartans decided to go for it. Thinking it was a run play, Andres Lara got behind the defense from the tight end position and caught a strike over the middle from Salas and Lara did the rest and scored from 31 yards out giving the Spartans a 42-24 lead.
Rosamond never quit and Escobar hit Mario Aparicio from 46 yards out trimming the lead to 42-32.
The Roadrunners got the ball back with just over five minutes remaining, but Escobar was intercepted for the third time in the game and Strathmore was able to use most of the clock to seal the victory.